Seven Days of Cookies: Almond Raspberry Thumbprints

I love a jam thumbprint, especially when the cookie has been baked with the jam – it getsIMG_3609 all chewy and delicious. There are a zillion thumbprint recipes but this one, adapted from Martha Stewart, is especially good.

Martha’s original version calls for hazelnuts and strawberry jam. I prefer the Linzer flavors of almonds and raspberries. I don’t toast my almonds beforehand because I feel they get toasted enough in the baking. You certainly can if you like.

As to jam, the best raspberry jam you can find is what you want here. (And make sure it’s jam vs. preserves. You don’t want big chunks of fruit in your filling.)

The cookies are rich. The recipe makes only 2 dozen, but on a cookie tray, that’s more than enough.

Enjoy!

Almond Raspberry Thumbprints

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (soft but sill ccol)

1/2 c plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

1 large egg, separated, each part lightly beaten in separate small bowls

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp almond extract (optional)

1 1/4 c flour

1/8 tsp salt

1/2 c slivered almonds, finely chopped (not powder fine)

Raspberry jam for filling

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Line two large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk, vanilla and almond extract (if using), and mix well. Reduce speed to low. Add flour and salt, and mix until just combined. Shape into a ball, flatten it slightly, cover in plastic wrap and chill for two hours.

Remove chilled dough from refrigerator and let sit for about 20 minutes.

IMG_3594Stir together chopped almonds and the 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small bowl. Set up a production line of your bowl of egg white, the nuts, and your prepared baking sheets. Using a small ice cream scoop (1-inch), scoop level amounts of dough and roll into balls. Dip balls into the egg white and then into the almond-sugar mixture.  Space 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets.

Using the end of a wooden spoon or small pestle, press down the center of each ball. Make a fairly deep crater but don’t push through to the baking sheet. Fill each crater with a 1/4 teaspoon ofIMG_3606 raspberry jam.

Bake for 16 minutes until golden brown. Cool on racks.

Cookies keep 2-3 days in an airtight container.

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Seven Days of Cookies: Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Peppermint is the flavor of the holidays, showing up in bark, hotIMG_3600 chocolate, cakes and the ubiquitous candy cane. There’s nothing more cheerful than a candy cane but many of us, after the age of 13, like looking at them more than eating them. I don’t know, hard candies and sugar sticks – it’s tough to keep the dentist out of my head.

This cookie gives you what you love about candy canes without the tooth-aching sweetness and guilt. Plus they’re pretty on the plate. And terrific with hot cocoa.

I have a handwritten version of this recipe so can’t credit it, but if I had to guess, it’s another Bon Appetit treat (although it doesn’t come up in an Epicurious search.)

Enjoy!

Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

2 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 large egg whites
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1 c hard peppermint candies or candy canes, crushed powder fine (about 6 oz), divided
3-5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preparation

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Sift together dry ingredients.

IMG_3593In a large bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add egg yolk and beat until blended. Add egg whites and extract, and mix well. The mixure will look grainy, don’t be alarmed. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in 1/2 c crushed candies.

Gather dough into a ball, flatten it slightly, wrap in plastic and chill for about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Position rack in middle of oven.

Using a small (or one-inch) ice cream scoop, scoop blobs of dough and dip rounded tops into remaining crushed candies. Place two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned on bottom. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

Melt chocolate and, using a small offset spatula, spread melted chocolate on the bottom of each cookie. Place cookies,  bottoms up, on racks until chocolate sets.

IMG_3599The recipe yields about 4 dozen cookies. The dough freezes well so you can make mini batches throughout the holidays. Just let it defrost in the fridge for several hours before using. (PS, I’ve never tried this, but I imagine you could scoop all the dough, dip the tops in the crushed candy and THEN freeze the dough balls. Give it a try!)

 

Seven Days of Cookies: Cherry Pistachio Mexican Wedding Cakes

One of the best parts of the holidays for me (as you might imagine) are theIMG_3589 copy cookies. I love to make them, give them, exchange them, receive them. Over the years, I’ve narrowed my personal baking selection down to a handful of exceptional, easy to make recipes. These are cookies that turn out great every time and each is a showstopper in terms of taste, texture, and beauty. Each also stands up to freezing, shipping and storing.

For the next week, I’ll share a cookie recipe every day so that by Sunday you’ll have everything you need to have the most delicious cookie tray ever.

Enjoy!

Cherry Pistachio Mexican Wedding Cakes

This recipe is adapted from Epicurious. I’ve been making these every year since I saw them in the December 2006 Bon Appetit. They are light, delicious, and wonderful to give. Make sure your butter is soft but not warm, and do sift your flours. You don’t want anything to weigh these babies down. Also, note, if you ever wondered what making cookies was like in the olden times, this is the recipe to work with: Mixing in the 5 cups of flour by hand is a bit of work, but like with scones and shortbread, the warmth of your hands does something magical to the dough. Just go slowly and be patient, the results are well worth it. PS, this is why you should use a very large bowl.

I use a rectangular 1 Tablespoon measure when forming the cookies, the results are more consistent. The original recipe says it yields 80 cookies. I reliably get about 60.

Ingredients

2 c (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 c powdered sugar plus more for coating

2 Tbs vanilla extract

1 tsp salt

1 c shelled unsalted natural pistachios (about 4 ounces), chopped (I use Trader Joe’s dry roasted, unsalted pistachios)

1 c dried tart cherries or dried cranberries (again, Trader Joe’s)

3 1/3 c sifted cake flour

1 2/3 c sifted all purpose flour

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange racks on the top and middle of the oven. Line two large baking sheets with Silpat or parchment. Set aside.

Beat butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt, then pistachios and cherries. Dump in the flours and, usUntitleding your hands, carefully work the flour into the butter mixture. Be gentle, you don’t want to overmix the dough.

Using a rectangular 1 Tbs measure (or a generous round tablespoon), scoop dough and then roll in your hands into rough football-shaped ovals. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until bottoms just begin to color, about 16 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes before coating.

powderPour generous amount of powdered sugar into medium bowl. Working with 5 or 6 warm cookies at a time, add cookies to bowl of sugar; gently turn to coat thickly. Transfer cookies to rack to cool completely.

Can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. (I store mine in single layers in 1 Gallon Ziploc bags.)

Feelin’ Like Fall Peanut Butter Cookies

It’s been a tough autumn here in Southern California. Temperatures have been close to IMG_2682100 degrees all across the Southland, with regional blackouts due to 24/7 AC and beach dwellers who are normally proud of their “we don’t need AC” status, flocking to packed movie theaters for relief. There have been a few classic SoCal fall days mixed in, though, with breezy temps in the low 70s and cool nights that might tumble into the low 60s – those are baking days.

This past weekend was cool and cloudy, perfect for making soup and peanut butter cookies. I like my peanut butter cookies crisp with a hint of chocolate, so I use equal amounts of white and brown sugar, and add cocoa nibs. It’s the perfect cookie: Easy to pull together and, with a couple of hours of Hulu to catch up on, the right amount of baking time.

Feelin’ Like Fall Peanut Butter Cookies

Yield 2-3 dozen

Ingredients

1 ¼ c flour

¾ tsp baking soda

1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened (beat cold butter between wax paper sheets with a rolling pin)

½ c light brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

¾ tsp vanilla extract

1 c chunky peanut butter (I use Skippy)

½ c cocoa nibs

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment (parchment makes a crisper cookie than Silpat).

Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside.

IMG_2680Beat butter and both sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium until fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Mix in vanilla, then peanut butter. Beat well. Scrape down the sides and then add flour mixture. Beat on medium speed until well combined. Mix in cocoa nibs.

Remove bowl from mixer and give the dough a few turns with a wooden spoon or spatula to make sure the nibs are thoroughly mixed in.

Use a small ice cream scoop or rounded tablespoon to scoop up dough. Roll into balls and placeIMG_2684 on cookie sheets, spacing about 2.5 inches apart. Sprinkle generously with crystal sugar.

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through baking time, 20 minutes. Cool on rack.

Enjoy! Great with tea or cold milk. (The crispy makes ‘em dunkable.)